The mission of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce.
We are 18,000 restaurant workers, 200 high-road employers, thousands of engaged consumers united for raising restaurant industry standards.
The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York was initially founded in New York City by Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman after September 11th, 2001 to provide support to restaurant workers displaced as a result of the World Trade Center tragedy. Based on our successful efforts in New York City, restaurant workers in several other cities approached ROC about initiating chapters in their cities. Thus, in 2008 we launched the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has grown into a national organization with 18,000 low-wage restaurant worker members in 15 states.
Since its founding, ROC United has won more than a dozen workplace justice campaigns, winning more than $10 million in misappropriated tips and wages and discrimination payments for low-wage workers, and significant policy changes in high-profile restaurant companies covering thousands of workers. We have played an instrumental role in winning statewide minimum wage increases for tipped workers, and other policy campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. ROC also partners with almost 200 responsible restaurant owners to promote the ‘high road’ to profitability, has trained more than 5,000 restaurant workers to advance to livable-wage jobs within the industry, and has published over 30 ground-breaking reports and a nationally bestselling book on the restaurant industry.
CO-DIRECTORS & CO-FOUNDERS
Co-Director (based in Oakland, California), co-founded ROC in New York after 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, which has organized restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants.
Fekkak Mamdouh came to the United States from Morocco in 1988 at the age of 27. He worked in New York City restaurants since he arrived, and finally moved to Windows on the World when it reopened in 1996. As a waiter at Windows, Mamdouh was always a staunch worker advocate.
ROC United Board of Directors
(affiliations listed for purposes of identification)